Case studies of female bodies in computer mediated culture
This thesis uses the representation of the female body in digital media to examine cultural formations in cyberculture. Through a variety of case studies it analyses gendered bodies across different'new media' domains. The thesis is rooted in computer mediated communication and the history of analysis that has accompanied text-based formations. The theoretical claims of the thesis include: " Computer mediated communication has become part of a visual culture and requires tools of visual analysis in addition to those of textual analysis. " The terms new technologies, internet and cyberspace, are used to homogenise what are actually very different forms and genres. " These different forms and genres share: 1) A reality aesthetic. 2) The strategy of presence. " In relation to this aesthetic the female body is represented in stereotypical ways that preserve boundaries and closure. Individual users simultaneously represent it in ways that resist, subvert and change these institutional models. " Representations of the female body are used to market new technologies that arguably feminise the technology. " The binary categories of public/private, producer/receiver, artificial/natural and male/female are collapsed through computer mediated representations of the female body. This producer/receiver collapse locates the self in a network with the technology. " Representations of the female body in cyberspace reveal that'the female' is performed through a technological construction. The thesis is comprised of case studies on cyberfiction, computer games, home pages, web cameras, institutional imaging and simulations. It deploys Haraway's model of the cyborg and Butler's model of performativity to discuss identity and subjectivity in relation to representations of the female body. It draws on cybercultural theory, feminist understandings of the body and it brings the methodologies of media studies to computer mediated communication.